Composer-conductor-teacher (Singcircle, Jupiter Orchestra, Trinity Laban) Gregory Rose (born 1948) makes it on to the ever-enterprising Toccata Classics label, run by Martin Anderson (who is not a relation of yours truly, even if one of our mutual friends, Elizabeth, often refers to us as “The Anderson Twins”). Anyway, Rose is English and here are five of his recent orchestral works recorded for the first time and as newly as last November, all approachable if not obvious, for there is a decided whimsical/experimental/improvisatory quality, slightly Stockhausen-ish in concept, that may be found engaging or something of a conundrum; music of suggestion that can be dance-like, if sometimes angular.
Birthday Ode for Aaron Copland (1990) uses brass as car-horns (not quite Ligeti, who commandeered the real thing to macabre intent). Red Planet (2014/19) shifts between exuberance (with a disco thwack) and etherealness, the latter a distant expression just out of reach. Suite pour Cordes (2017) is an intense affair across five short movements (Bartók meets Tippett meets the score for Hitchcock’s Psycho). Whereas Seven Dances from Danse macabre (2011) covers a lot of stylistic ground and includes bagpipes in Dances One & Five. Dance Three is straight out of the Stravinsky songbook. Mr Rose as a composer is difficult to pin down.
As centrepiece is his Violin Concerto (2017), a continuous score (albeit sporting an Introduction, Nine Episodes, and a Cadenza and Coda) that is played with superb commitment by Peter Sheppard Skærved. It’s a fascinating creation of intertwining ideas that needs a few listens to fully appreciate the design of the whole and the interactions of any moment.
Ergo, that’s the beauty of a recording, to re-boot a piece as often as you like, especially when, as here, the composer is conducting a responsive Royal Ballet Sinfonia in top-notch accounts, the sound is splendid, and the annotations are typically generous and informative. Toccata Classics TOCC 0558.